Cuddles is dying.
I need your help.





This is an emergency post. It is not what I planned, scheduled or hoped to be talking about today. It will not be my best piece of writing but it is one of my most important.

In fact I don’t even want to type the words out.

But Cuddles is dying.

Last Tuesday I went out into the run and the normally wildly active and friendly Cuddles was hiding under a tree. Just laying there.

By Wednesday she hadn’t improved at all and wasn’t eating or drinking. She wasn’t moving. Otherwise she looked healthy. No signs of a cold or any respiratory problems. Nice red comb. She had laid an egg only a few days earlier. But I knew when I looked at her. Cuddles was dying.

Her poop was minuscule bits of green (bile filled) dry blobs. From what I could tell she had no swelling in her crop or abdomen.

So I ran up to my local feed store and got her some electrolytes (to replenish the liquid, vitamins and minerals she needed) and some penicillin in case she had any sort of infection that could be cleared up.

The horrible, horrible sad thing about chickens is generally when they get sick, they die.

They’re prone to cancer, egg binding, impacted crops, egg yolk peritonitis, prolapsed vents, respiratory illnesses and a litany of other things that can, and often do lead to death.

By Thursday Cuddles’ poop looked like this.



Sorry for the graphic photo, but really I don’t care. I just care about finding some sort of help for Cuddles.

After a day of antibiotics and electrolytes Cuddles was feeling MUCH better. She was up and moving around and drinking. Still no eating though. For the next couple of days she got even better and would peck angrily at the younger chickens, drink and eat (but only her favourite foods). I could coax her to eat preserved crickets, corn on the cob, oatmeal and a bit of her feed. She’d peck and scratch at the dirt like she normally does, looking for bugs. Her poops were not large, but back to normal with regular cecal matter and poopy stuff.

After 4 days I quit the antibiotics and electrolytes. That was today (I’m writing this Sunday night). She was active again today and scratching around in the dirt for bits of food, but will NOT eat her food and will not eat anything presented to her other than some fresh corn.

And her poops are back to this …


Like I said. For the most part, when chickens get sick, chickens die.

I know Cuddles is just a chicken. And I’m willing to let nature take it’s course if need be. I don’t want to prolong her life for my sake. But there are 2 things I won’t do.

I will not give up trying to help her if I think there’s a chance she can recover.

And I will not allow her to suffer for weeks or even days. If she has no chance, I will have her put down.

I will not chop her head off, I will not break her neck. I just can’t. Cuddles sat in my lap for hours last summer when the fella left. The poor thing would be soaked in tears, but just shake them off and sleep in my lap. So no, off with her head is not an option here. But I will have her euthanized the same way I’ve had other pets I’ve loved. If I have to I’ll have Cuddles put to sleep.



Now is when I ask for your help.

I cannot find a vet that deals in poultry in my area. If you know of someone who deals with poultry in the Hamilton, Ontario region let me know. I would like Cuddles looked at and diagnosed so I can decide what to do. I will also need a vet to euthanize her when the time comes.

Also, if you are a chicken owner and these symptoms seem familiar to you, let me know. I know very little about poultry veterinary but I suppose it could be egg yolk peritonitis.

If you know anyone else who is an experienced chicken farmer please forward this post to them.

Synopsis and timeline of Symptoms

Day 1 – lethargic, not eating or drinking
Day 2 – lethargic, not eating or drinking. Dry, green pellet type poops. Started on electrolytes and penicillin.
Day 3 – energy back, eating a tiny bit and drinking. Fed some olive oil in case of blockage or crop issue. Poops that look like egg yolk with no solids. (however both her medications that I’ve been syringe feeding her are a bright yellow colour)
Day 4 – Great energy, playing a bit, eating anything when hand fed. Picking out only black sunflower seeds from scratch. Eating crickets, green beans, greens, yogourt, oatmeal, and a small amount of crumble when fed by hand and she got jealous when the other chickens were eating it. Discontinued use of electrolytes and penicillin at end of day.
Day 5 – Less energy but still up and moving around all day. Running to gate when she saw me. Uninterested in eating even her favourite foods other than a few specific seeds from scratch, weeds and raw corn on the cob. Crop felt almost empty before bed. Decided to give electrolytes just before she retired for the night.

I apologize for the horribly depressing and you know, gross post where you didn’t learn how to do anything or get a chance to laugh but it seemed stupid to have this kind of a forum and not use it to help Cuddles.

Thank you.




  1. alisa says:

    Read this. This treatment really does help sick hens….especially if you have no idea what’s wrong. And the writer is very experienced with hens. You could try contacting her directly.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. That’s actually one of the many, MANY articles I read. I bathed Cuddles in warm water and fed her olive oil prior to reading it. I may venture into giving her the Epsom salts bath tomorrow. Thx. Alisa! ~ karen

    • MARILYN says:


      I live in Auburn, AL and we have a wonderful Poultry Science Dept. at Auburn University. I have forwarded your story to a friend of mine Dr. Joseph Giambrone who works in this dept. Hopefully you or I will hear from him shortly…….. Praying for Cuddles.


      • Karen says:

        Thank you so much Marilyn! ~ karen

      • MARILYN says:

        Dr. Giambrone said he responded to your blog but I do not see it! I hope you got it.


      • Teresa says:

        Hey Marilyn, I live in Montgomery, AL and graduated from Auburn….War Eagle! So glad someone else down south follows Karen’s blog. Thanks for trying to help!

        • Deenamac says:

          Hey, Teresa & Marilyn,
          Lots of folks ‘down south’ follow this amazing blog!!!
          As another Auburn resident I must say WAR EAGLE and I am praying for relief for both Cuddles AND Karen. I too, have some wonderful chickens with fantastic personalities and am hoping for the best.

  2. Nicole says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles, Karen. I do not have chickens or a specific recommendation. I just know that complicated cases in Southern Ontario frequently get referred to the University of Guelph. With the veterinary and agriculture programs there they may be able to help.

    • Patti says:

      I was going to suggest this, too! The University is fantastic, and their specialized knowledge could only help, Karen! I know a few people who work in various departments there, and can only sing their praises!

      Poor Cuddles and poor Karen! I don’t have chickens, but I do have a parrakeet, and I know how incredibly wonderful birds can be and how much you can bond with them. Please take Cuddles to the veterinary service at Guelph, Karen – they really are wonderful, and IF you have to get Cuddles euthanized, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the team there is the MOST sympathetic and kind. They get it.

  3. caryl hodgdon says:

    I just lost my one and only with some of the same symptoms. I had no clue what her age was-orphan-and I’m sure you know Cuddle’s age. I thought she might just be old and had a miserable past. Have you tried the site backyard chickens? There are some bumpkins there but with good hearts. My thoughts are with you both and at least it sounds like she’s enjoying her last days except for the poops-just like my Viola! Think about whether she might have gotten into something different it might direct a vet to a remedy.xo

    • Nicole2 says:

      Yes, I was going to suggest Guelph as well. I have a friend who will take her dogs there only. Drive from Burlington even though there are very qualified vets here.

  4. alisa says:

    And, I can say don’t give up on Cuddles yet. My own favorite hen got sick last year at about this time. Similar symptoms and poop. I took her to my vet who is familiar with birds, and he found nothing wrong. He said that hens can get ill just like humans, and she might get better on her own. She did…and then she had a relapse, and then she just went back to normal. It was about a week, all told. It’s a year later now, and she’s fine. I truly hope Cuddles recovers. I know how these special hens can be so loved.

    • Karen says:

      Was she eating at all? That’s what’s kept Cuddles alive. The fact that I was forcing her to drink with a syringe when she wouldn’t. I hope she lives but if not I really don’t want her to suffer or prolong her suffering. Hopefully I’ll find a poultry vet with a suggestion. ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Lynne. I don’t know HOW in my billion Google searches I didn’t find him! And in Ontario even! No idea where, but at least it’s Ontario. ~ karen

  5. Lesley Williamson says:

    No idea if this will help – there’s this guy. and he’s mentioned again here Mike Petrik – chicken vet in the Hamilton area. Trying to find contact info but maybe the two women in these blogs could help?

  6. Lesley Williamson says:

    Director of Technical Services at McKinley Hatchery Inc.
    Guelph, Ontario, Canada (Kitchener, Canada Area) Veterinary
    772 Queen St E
    St Marys, ON N4X 1C2, Canada – View Map
    Phone: (519) 284-1790

    Good luck!

  7. Lesley Williamson says:

    I *think* this is the guy. I just sent a link to your blog via private message to his Facebook address.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Leslie! I’ve left a comment on his site with a link to my post as well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Perhaps with the two of us pestering him he’ll respond. I’m sure he gets many requests and people contacting him which is why he doesn’t have his email address available. I understand. ~ karen!

  8. Sarah Huckabee says:

    When I saw the first photo it made me think she has a calcium or phosphorus deficiency if you gave her electrolytes that should have helped with that problem. If I hadn’t seen the poop pictures I would have thought Botulism because I had a rooster have the same kind of symptoms. There isn’t much you can do if that is the case. Could also some sort of virus if she got better and then went worse again. If in the event she does pass is there a livestock vet or exotic vet close that would do a necropsy?

    • Karen says:

      There are many livestock vets around but they mainly deal in large animals like cows, horses etc. most people just don’t take a chicken to the vet. And to be honest if it weren’t Cuddles I may not be quite so frantic about it either, but this is a chicken that runs up to me and jumps in my lap! She’s sooo happy and friendly with everyone. ~ karen!

  9. Ember says:

    I’m so sorry. Praying for your Cuddles. Nothing silly about that. We have these special little things we are given and they mean the world to us. I dont know anyone particular, but perhaps contact someone at Texas A&M University.They do a LOT of agriculture type things there.

  10. mia pratt says:

    Here’s sending wishes for a rapid recovery for your sweet little angel. However many days our animal friends are given for their life, they bring us such joy and unique companionship! From chickens to dogs and horses, through thick and thin, they love us in the way only our animal can. Let’s hope her days ahead are many, and your tears ahead are few, dear Karen<:}

  11. Cynthia says:

    I would be putting her back onto the antibiotics straight away if you have more, until you can gather more information or support.

    Four days is not a full course length and she bucked up by the end of day four it could indicate she needs a longer course.

    I will send the link to my local chicken lady and forward to you any response I get. Keep her warm too just to keep her stress levels down.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Cynthia. I may run out now and give her another dose. For things like this for chickens everything I’ve read said a course of 4 days. ๐Ÿ™ ~ karen!

  12. Susan Croteau says:

    Animals will fast sometimes when ill..Have you tried diatomaceous earth.. if she has parasites it will kill them! She could have some sort of stomach problems from them. I hope she gets well… but realize that sometimes animals fast until they are well. If you buy diatomaceous earth make sure it is food grade.. for animals and humans! Also..I am sue I didn’t spell it right. I suggest dusting your chickens with it also.. as it will kill mites and other bugs on your chickens!

  13. alisa says:

    Does her lower belly area feel normal? The part between her legs and her tail? I’m told that if it’s a problem involving her egg laying system – like egg laryngitis- that her belly will feel squishy. Compare her to your other hens so you’ll know what’s normal to feel.

  14. Cynthia says:

    I know ‘squat’ but I am thinking to err on the side of caution. I think it would likely do more good than harm to keep her on them longer than the ususal recommendation especially if her poop and her behaviour responds positively.

    Also, I would give her her favourite things to eat, even though you could end up with one girl who will only eat black sunflower seeds for the next ten years. ๐Ÿ™‚ Anything to keep her energy up until Mike the Marvel gets back to you or another treasure from one of your readers.

    Sending a cyberhug to both.

  15. Cynthia says:

    Karen……..My local Chook Lady’s response.

    cynthia jones
    4:00 PM (8 minutes ago)

    to Lisa

    โ€‹Hi Lisa
    Would you mind checking out this post on my favourite blog and see if you have any ideas to help her.?โ€‹

    Lisa Daley
    4:07 PM (2 minutes ago)

    to me
    Cynthia, If it were me, I would worm Cuddles with a pour on drench because it kills all internal and external paracites eg cydectin cattle drench and try to get cuddles to eat chick starter because it has anticoccidial medicine in it. I wouldn’t ever give up hope!

    Im not convinced that a vet would make any difference to the outcome.

    cynthia jones
    4:08 PM (0 minutes ago)

    to Lisa
    Oh Thank you so much. I will forward your email on to Karen in Canada. She will appreciate it so much.

    Lovely of you to respond so promptly. I so appreciate it.


    • Karen says:

      Wow. That was incredibly quick! O.K. I’m going to bed now being it’s almost 2:30 in the morning and I’ll compare her response to others and see what seems to make the most sense. Thank her for me! ~ karen

  16. Barbara says:

    Seems like you are getting lots of good advice from your readers, as well as the name of a vet. I forwarded your post to the Austex Poultry group, asking them if they knew of anything you could do to help Cuddles. They are really good about helping each other out in a crisis. We are all hoping for the best for you and Cuddles.

  17. Kristin Ferguson says:

    Tippie, my favorite hen, had something similar a couple of years ago. She was lethargic, wouldn’t eat or drink, and kept settling down for a rest, all the time, wherever she was, as if she was just too tired to stand. I took her to a vet that deals with chickens (sometimes it’s damned convenient to live in a big and wacky city like Los Angeles; I even found one in my neighborhood.) He gave her a shot of antibiotics, and also an injection of saline to replace some lost fluids. I then had to feed her more antibiotics for maybe ten days, twice a day. She was better within a couple of days, but I kept giving her the medicine until it was gone, like the vet said. She made a full recovery. The vet had offered to run some tests that would have been quite expensive, but when I hesitated to sign off on them, that’s when he offered to just treat her for an infection. It was hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars in vet bills on a chicken, even for Tippie. And a divorce would have been even more expensive.

    I hope Cuddles recovers! Let us know what the vet says!

  18. shuckclod says:

    So sorry to hear about Cuddles not doing well. Your girls are so important to you. She sounds dehydrated to me. I know you would never cut her head off, she is your working pet not food. I hope she pulls through, lots of good advice to try.

  19. Cynthia says:

    Lisa Daley
    4:11 PM (17 minutes ago)

    to me
    Please convey my best wishes, and even in cases where all efforts have failed I do believe that kindness is never a waste,

  20. Cynthia says:

    I looked up coccidiosis on Backyard Chickens. It does say that severe infections can cause yellow foamy poop.

    I think Cuddles’ poop could come under that definition.

    Here is an except that outlines the treatment. from the link I have included.

    “How to Treat Coccidiosis?”

    ……………Treatment will work effectively and quickly if started when you see the first signs of disease

    The treatment I have read about that is said to be the best is to separate your chickens and then use Corid 9.6% liquid solution. The dosage is 9.5cc to a gallon of water for five days. And there is no withdrawal period. You do need to make a fresh batch every day, and keep him/her away from all the other chickens. Corid takes care of all 9 cocci that chickens could get…………….


    I think keep her on the antibiotics and this Corid together will cover all bases.

    Here is another chicken site that offers different medication choices in case this Corid is not available to you.

  21. Suel Anglin says:

    Hi Karen,
    I hope Cuddles feels better soon. I’m one of your readers down south. I’m hoping one of those vet connections come through for you. I grew up near my grandparents farm in North Carolina, chickens were my favorites. I think you should return to the treatment that had the best effect, if you can keep her fluids going and keep her eating a bit, I think she will pull through. If her appetite is still off try offering her some chopped boiled egg. (I know that sounds strange), But the concentrated nutrients may help her own immune response.

  22. Pam'a says:

    Sending good chicken juju as only a veterinarian’s daughter can. C’mon, Cuddles!

  23. Auntiepatch says:

    I don’t know anything about chickens but I do hope that Cuddles gets better. Any animal that loves like that deserves a chance to live. Good luck to both of you!

  24. Polly says:

    Don’t give up hope! I had one down for 5 weeks once. I was cleaning her up and propping her up on the lawn to get sun every day. She had 2 vet visits and two rounds of anti -b’s. She got VERY close to being put down but she kept eating and I figure if an animal’s game enough to persevere, then I’ll keep feeding it. One day she just stood up and toddled off back to the flock : )

  25. BamaCarol says:

    I don’t have anything to offer but prayers that Cuddles gets better. She is some kind of girl to have provided you with lots of love last year.

  26. Jess says:

    Oh Karen, I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles! I hope with the outpour of replies you find something that will help her. Btw…one can learn a lot from poop…good luck โ™ฅโ™ฅ

  27. Carol Hogan says:

    I have nothing to offer either having no experience with chickens but I have lots of experience with animals and the unconditional love they offer, especially at times when human comfort just doesn’t do it, so I’m sending you my love and prayers and asking my favorite, St Francis, to keep your Cuddles in his loving arms.

  28. Linda says:

    Karen, I had taken a sick chicken to the Dunnville Vet Clinic in the past. They had no problem seeing her and helping..they have both a farm and small animal vet service.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Linda! I’ll work my way through these comments and see what everyone else says, but at least Dunnville is within driving distance! I may try worming her. ~ karen

  29. Lynne says:

    Did you find a solution? If not – email me – one of my besties is a vet and specializes in farm animals. Maybe you could drive Cuddles here today?!

  30. Sally A says:

    I agree with one of the comments above that Texas A&M University has the best ag program in the United States, however may be slow tor difficult o get answers. I found this online where you type in your problem and they get back to you quickly. I used a similar site for my cat and it was helpful.
    This is the link to their poultry vets.|ga|1|Pets|Poultry%20Vet&JPKW=chicken%20vet&JPDC=S&JPST=&JPAD=30481254363&JPMT=p&JPNW=g&JPAF=txt&JPCD=20120615&JPRC=1&JPOP=Colin_QALive_Control&mkwid=str2edA2Q_dc&pcrid=30481254363&pkw=chicken%20vet&pmt=p&plc=&gclid=CO6giPLSnMACFSMLMgodOhsAkA

    I wish I could help more! Good luck and we’re here for you!

    • wanda j says:

      You’ve got to love us Texans. I live 60 miles from A&M and we all love that school (here along with UT of course).They have the best vet department. Being this happened on weekend it might take them awhile today to get in touch. I hope they can help you find the cure. I only know one other chicken lady and she lives up north somewhere. I don’t have any chickens myself only neighbors who visit each day so I’m no help. I hope you find some thing for you dear Cuddles friend soon.

  31. Juliet says:

    Could it be Sour Crop? Or could she be Egg bound? Sorry about your sweet chicken. I have learned that the joy my animals bring me comes with a flip side and that is heartache. Hope she makes it.


    • Karen says:

      Definitely don’t think she’s egg bound and she her breath is fine so probably not sour crop, but I did notice it seems warm this morning and didn’t empty what little she had in there, so there could be some sort of impacted crop. ~ karen!

  32. mayr says:

    She’s not “just” a chicken. She’s your friend. And a darn good one too.

  33. Gail says:

    You might try an avian vet. We took our parrot to Windrush in Burford. Or you might want to contact a chicken farmer. You can Google that.

    • Dear Karen, I heartily second the recommendation of Windrush in Burford, who have been so kind and a great help with our chickens, including treating infections, managing pain, and end-of-life care. I’m so sorry about your precious friend Cuddles.

      You are doing the right things – keeping her on the antibiotic (yes, 4 days is not enough) until a vet can see her, attending to her hydration, offering her bits of anything to eat which might tempt her appetite. Keeping her hydrated is key, and hens need lots of water.

      The neon green small runny poops suggests egg yolk peritonitis. When our dear girls have had similar situations, protein-rich foods were good: scrambled egg, hulled sunflower seeds (important – no shells!), a spoonful of tuna salad. Other low-appetite favourites have included fresh or canned corn, Hagen canary moulting treat, crumbled bead moistened with Shoppers brand Pedialyte (“apple” flavour), grapes and bananas cut up small; purple cabbage, cauliflower, and apple to peck at; and also chick crumbles, or laying hen pellets ground to dust in the blender / food processor. Though our weather is mild, you might offer her a heat lamp or hot water bottle as long as she has room to choose to move towards and away from it. Warm + dark is the ideal combo.

      All kindest thoughts to you and Cuddles, and big, big hugs. Feel welcome to get in touch if I can help in any way. xoxoxoxoxoxo

  34. Ann says:

    I know you are probably catching up on a little sleep right now. Good luck with Cuddles. You have gotten some good info here and you will have to keep us up to date on what happens in the next few days. I have lost a chicken this year to the unknown. She had what I called the croup since she wheezed every time she breathed until the end of 2 days which was then the end for her. I asked my vet if she ever treated chickens and she said no and that she did not know of another single vet in our area that did.

    I totally understand wanting to go the distance to save your favorite girl. I thought I lost my fav hen, Loretta to a fox. Was heartbroken over all her feathers strewn across the lawn. I was just about to suck it up and move on, best I could, when who waddles down the driveway, nary a tailfeather on her backside? Well, my sweet little Loretta. Who, by the way, flew out of her 6′ tall chicken run to even get attacked to begin with. And who is now, not nearly as sweet a chicken as she was before her brush with death.

  35. Maria says:

    I’m so sorry.

    From the color of the poop, I’d say the egg was broken inside her and she was egg bound. If you gently feel her bottom, can you feel anything where an egg would be? It’s possible she still is egg bound.

    The Chicken-chick is my go to woman on all things chicken. Here is a link to her chicken resources directory. Use the search engine function at the top of the page and you’ll find egg bound, causes and treatment. There’s also a post on abnormal poop

    I got chickens because of your coop and your ladies.

    If she is still drinking, then there’s hope.

    Use an eye dropper and slowly drop liquids in the side of her beak one drop at a time if you have too.

    Try scrambling up an egg and see if she can be tempted by that.

    Keep giving her electrolytes and antibiotics.

    I will pray for Cuddles. She is a sweet girl. And so are you.

  36. Tracey says:

    Hi Karen
    Mike replied to you…did you see it yet?
    I just happened to be reading his blog from the link and saw your question and his reply.
    I’m So Sorry to hear about cuddles. I hope she recovers sweetie. I know I’ll be waiting to hear about her progress. She sounds like such a sweetheart. I just watched the video you had with cuddles sitting on your friends daughters lap. I forget their names now….because this post made me cry for you and for cuddles.

  37. marilyn says:

    sorry karen

  38. Shannon says:

    Have you tried contacting Lap of Love? They are a roaming hospice for pets. They euthanized our beloved dog, Annie at our house with the most wonderful, tender care I could ever hope for. They have 60 vets across the US but maybe they also have something for Canada. Good luck! My heart goes out to you.

  39. Andrea says:

    I would suggest that you connect with a veterinarian, Mark Camilleri who is located in Ancaster 905-304-7877. Yes it is a veterinary practice that specializes in felines, however Dr Camilleri has been involved with poultry since childhood. Dr Camilleri is also a qualified poultry judge with the American Bantam Association when I last checked. Personally, I have not met him but my sibling knows him well and he comes well recommended by many in the poultry world.

    Wishing you and Cuddles all the best.

    • Karen says:

      Oh thats great Andrea! Thank you so much. I’ll absolutely look into him. The fact that he’s a vet and knowledgable in poultry is amazing! Even avian vets don’t usually know about poultry so much as parrots. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Andrea – I’ve called the cat clinic and asked for them to have Mark contact me. I’ve also emailed them my post to forward to him. Thank you so much for supplying me with my most promising lead. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will let everyone know when I hear back from him. ~ karen

  40. Mia says:

    My first thought when i see yellow poop is either liver issues or EYP resulting in a possible E.coli infection. Is her abdomen swollen/tight? It is possible to drain abdomen with a needle to help reduce accumulated fluid(18 gauge needle)and a course of antibiotics,possibly Baytril would be a good choice. Yellow foamy poop may indicate internal parasites,but judging from photos her poop looks more yellow and watery. I have seen yellow watery poop in my own birds,symptoms were fluffed up not eating/drinking,my first thought is always liver issues,so the first thing i grab is dandelion b/c among other things it contains choline a liver stimulant,i was lucky b/c it did help help my birds and after a couple of days they were fine. Any vet regardless whether they treat poultry should be able to do a fecal float test just to rule out parasites.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mia – She definitely doesn’t have foamy poop. And now that you remind me, I did give her dandelion when she first got sick and she gobbled it down like a pig. A chicken pig. I’ll go grab some now and see if it entices her to eat. Thx. ~ karen!

  41. Dagmar says:

    You’re a good Mamma Karen. I love the fact that when the chips are down, everyone rushes to help. That in itself shows that our world hasn’t completely been abandoned to evil. I, too will send my prayers for the good health of your Cuddles. I don’t know anything about chickens, either, but I believe in the power of love. Sending you and yours hugs, meows, and bunny bonks.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Judy. I actually know Kathy. She’s GREAT with chickens, but still … she’s not a vet and this really is a bit of a strange problem. I’ve contacted the vet she uses when she’s looking up solutions to problems like this herself. ๐Ÿ™‚ He gave a couple of suggestions. ~ karen!

  42. Mia says:

    I noticed in one post the suggestion of giving medicated feed containing Amprolium for a possible Coccidiosis overload, medicated feed will DO NOTHING for a cocci overload,it does NOT contain enough Amprolium,you would need a much more concentrated dose such as Amprolium(Amprol) this is what it is called in Canada and available through a vet(in Manitoba this is the only way i can purchase Amprol). Just clarifying this information.

  43. Mia says:

    Look into tube feeding Karen,it is something that all poultry keepers should learn to do. Many birds die of starvation/dehydration rather than the actual issue. Tube feeding provides the needed fluids/food to fuel their very high metabolic body. I tube fed one of my silkie roosters for 7 days due to some type of head trauma(no wounds)he became lethargic almost comatose,after the 7 days he was fine and resumed eating on his own.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I keep meaning to look that up mia. I’m getting fairly good with syringe feeding of liquids and so is Cuddles, but tube feeding may be needed. ~ karen!

  44. Terry says:

    You might consider contacting Guelph Vetrinary college.

  45. Mia says:

    I blew up your poop photo(yellow watery poop photo,Thursday photo)and used a magnifying glass and at approx the 8:00 position just below the white patch it looks like worms,could just be debris,but look closely at this photo.

  46. Emily Davis says:

    Karen I am so sorry about Cuddles! If it is egg yolk peritonitis – here is something very simple that has helped my girls through – Fill up a big soup pot with warm water and and a cup of fragrance free dead sea salts. Soak Cuddles for ten minutes. Do this twice a day to get her insides moving and she very may well poop out what is causing her to be sick after the first soak. I swear by this spa treatment and have been using it for years to cure my girls of various ailments. Also Bragg’s vinegar. Add 1 tablespoon per pint of water and if you have to – syringe feed it to her. In my experience, Bragg’s works quicker and better than antibiotics and isn’t so harsh on the system. I’m rooting for you and for Cuddles!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks EMily. I will be giving her an epsom salts bath today. She doesn’t seem to have any fluids, or swelling in her abdomen which is what makes me feel like it probably isn’t EYP, but it’s always, always possible! ~ karen

  47. Tigersmom says:

    Oh geez! I know zip about chickens except they have cute fluffy butts and can be wonderful comforting companions, thanks to you.

    I hope Cuddles makes a full and fast recovery and will add her and you to my prayers.

    And no need for apologies. Anyone who “knows” you through your blog knows and understands what your girls, especially Cuddles, mean to you.

  48. Emily Davis says:

    If you can’t find dead seas salt -use epsom salt. You can pick it up at your local drugstore.

  49. Sandi says:

    Dear Karen,
    I am so sorry and will def keep you and Cuddles in my prayers. Your heart is heavy yet your love is most abundantly felt. I don’t know anything about chickens, however, grace and mercy is shown to us as well as our pets. Love cures a multitude of things!

  50. Ruth says:

    Scrolling through the comments, I realise that you have already gotten great advice. I really do hope Cuddles pull through. {{{HUGS}}}

  51. JF says:

    oh my word, SO sorry to hear about Cuddles’s illness – hoping one of the replies from our on-line family gives you some answers!

  52. carin says:

    Is there a farm in your area that might be able to recommend a local vet?

    In the meantime, hoping Cuddles rallies. She must certainly know she’s loved…

  53. Sandy says:

    Karen, could it be Coccidiosis?

  54. Barbara says:

    We have one reply so far from the Austex Poultry Group. This is it:

    The only thing I would add that is not in the blog comments is
    cleanliness. If the problem is a bacterial infection, the bird should
    not have access to her own poop or she could reinfect herself.

    Good luck!

  55. Rondina says:

    We are all waiting for news on Cuddles. Please keep updated.

  56. Ryn says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Cuddles. I hope you figure out what’s going on with her, and she gets well soon.

  57. chris says:

    yeah, I was going to say .. University of Guelph!

  58. Trish Gannon says:

    Don’t know if this will help you, but might be useful for your readers with chickens.
    Diagnosing chicken illness via poop –
    Another on problem poop:

  59. Love the sense of community the internet can bring! Sounds like you have a lot of good advice to nurse Cuddles back to health Karen. With your determination and big heart, I know she will pull through!

  60. Joe Giambrone says:

    Dear Karyn;

    As stated in one of you comments, I have been a poultry pathologist at Auburn University for 37+ years.
    I have listed our faculty webiste for the list of other experts in our Poultry Sceince Department. It sounds that you have gotten some good adive and not so good advice from your meaningful friends, However, you should never wash you bird, because you will wash off the protective oil that the bird places over her body from her oil gland and may lead to hyperthermia. Never place a laying hen on antibiotics for more the 7 days, because that may lead to yeast infections as is commonly seen in human females or bacterial resistance if you are using the wrong antibiotic. What type of antibiotic are you using? How old is your hen and what is her current egg production rate and shell quality? Do you have her only on human food? If so you might want to go to a more nutritionally complete layer diet. If she is not eating you may want to go to hand feeding. You can also try molaces for 2 days in the water for an energy boost or adding a samll heating bulb. Have you thought of worms, which are common in backyard birds. Take her temperature using a rectal thermomater. Normal body temp is 103 to 107. Provide me the answers to my questions if the problem it continues. Unifrtualtey I know of at least 20 cause of enteric diseases in backyard poultry. You can reach me at my email, which is on our website. We also have a free CD on rearing backyard flocks, that I can send you.


    Dr JJG

  61. Kim C. says:

    So sorry to learn that Cuddles is not well. Al I can offer is my strongest wish for her that she recovers quickly back to the loving friend that she is for you. I can feel your anxiety through your words. I really hope one of the solutions offered here turns out to be the ticket. Get well soon Cuddles. XO

  62. Jennifer says:

    You’ve received so many helpful comments! I hope this one helps:

    I have a hen who recently showed the same symptoms, although she also presented with fowl pox. We are fortunate that my dog’s vet also sees poultry, but it was a Wednesday and she’s not in on Wednesdays. The other vet in town who sees livestock was on vacation until the following day, so I took her to a specialty pet hospital 35 minutes away. They gave her fluids & vitamins intravenously and after two days she was better (even with fowl, which wouldn’t have made her sick like that). As soon as she was better, she became broody. I hope that doesn’t happen to Cuddles because it’s extra stress on their little bodies and has been difficult to keep ours off the nest.

    As you’ve written, having her euthanized may be the only option. I read Mike the Chicken Vet’s article about euthanasia shortly before I realized my beloved rooster needed to leave this world. His article was incredibly comforting in our case. I wrote about it on my blog in June ( It’s never easy to have sick chickens.

  63. Oh Karen,
    So sorry to hear about Cuddles. I’m waiting to board a plane at Singapore airport, but this is important.
    I’ve lost 3 hens to very similar symptoms, and like you, I had them euthanised like any loved pet. However, the important thing is I have managed to save 1 most treasured girl, Selma. I bathed her twice a day and did a very yucky clean out of her egg duct gently with a finger whilst she was in the warm bath. Antibiotics are the way to go. She took them for a week from memory. I mixed up special mash from a recipe I found online. Can’t remember quantities but it was grated apple, crumbled up chicken pellets, natural live yoghurt, 1 crumbled egg yolk for protein, a teaspoon of honey. Should be a stiff mash that you can roll small balls , sixe of a big pea, and feed her these one by one until she loses interest, a few times a day.
    I really hope it’s not egg yolk peritonitis. Poor cuddles.
    Luckily we have a great avian vet (in Melbourne, Australia) who used a needle and syringe to drain her swollen cavity (yuck) I believe you can do it yourself, but quite risky.
    I’ll try to email you the chicken website I got the info from when I get home.
    Good luck to you both.

  64. Jodi T. says:

    Not Cuddles!! I hope you can find a vet very soon and get her fixed up!!

  65. Marion says:

    Oh Karen, I am so sorry to hear about Cuddles. I have no advice to offer, only my well wishes that Cuddles gets well soon and you are able to get some rest. (and, as others have said, she’s not “just a chicken,” she’s a member of your family!)

  66. martina says:

    I hope big the time you read this Cuddles has been seen by a vet and is better. So touching that she gave you comfort during a hard time. Anyone who owns chickens knows that they are much smarter than others think.

    Is it safe to give poultry a dollop of yogurt? Just thinking the nutrition in that might help balance out the digestive tract.

  67. Pam says:

    In my 40 years of raising farm animals , I find that parasites are usually the underlying problem. Find a lab and get those poops checked, ASAP. Good luck!!

  68. cary says:

    hi karen. i posted a link to this blog post to backyard chickens and i got this response. ….
    …….. “Have you ever wormed them?
    I also wonder if she had an egg break inside..since you say the poop looked like egg yoke…looks green the pic.
    P.S. Here is a poop chart :
    Poop looks ok. Could be green from the electrolytes..meds…oil. ” ………..

    have you read up on egg binding? i hope you can save her. we do so love our girls don’t we?
    cary ๐Ÿ™‚

  69. Jennifer says:

    You mentioned how she perked up after the electrolytes. I would try a small amount of that with water in a syringe and slowly put it in her mouth.
    Also make sure she has no access to anything outside that she can eat that she is not supposed to eat. Her immune system is down right now, this to be built back up to fight this off.

    Do you have any Organic Pellets? Kruz makes a great organic lay pellet. If you can mix some with water and make an oatmeal like consistency try giving her some of that with some baby food.
    There is also something called Rooster Booster that can help.

    Please post your findings and updates, good luck!!!

  70. Leslie says:

    If you’ve fed her antibiotics, you might want to follow up with probiotics. I’m not sure if the electrolyte supplement you used included probiotics, but they are easy enough to buy or make. I feed Fermented Feed to my chickens to help keep a good balance of healthy bacteria in their system so they can fight parasites, etc., … it also seems to make their eggs taste yummier. Some people recommend Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother in the birds’ water. Some yogurt with live cultures can be a great treat. Yeast supplements (I really like human-grade Nutritional Yeast) are often added to chicken feed to help keep the birds healthier.

    Can you send some of her poo off for analysis? Do you have anything like the Extension Service there in Canada? It can be a very helpful resource here in the USA.

    Good luck with Cuddles. I know how stressful this can be.

  71. Sally says:

    Have you been in touch with the Richardson’s up at Christieview? I know you are one of their favourite people and they are a gold mine of information and moral support. And just a 10 minute drive away from you.

    My heart hurts for you. I go just ballistic when my dog gets sick. The bond with an animal is also indescribable.

  72. toekneetoni says:

    so sorry. hoping that you can get an accurate diagnosis and that Cuddles bounces back fully.

  73. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    The only things I know about chickens I learned from you..What I do know is how much you love that sweet little girl..Good luck have so many people trying to help..Hugs

  74. JeannieB says:

    Good luck Karen. If Cuddles doesn’t improve, she knows that you’ve done everything possible for her. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all chickens were loved, like Cuddles. Says me, who sobbed over a poor dead robin that died on my patio two days ago.

  75. Juliet says:

    I had a sweet hen with the same symptoms die of sour crop. We just caught it too late. :”’o( But, its easy to diagnose by one telltale symptom. Her crop will feel like a water balloon. We googled treatments which are quite simplistic and not fun for the patient. Hope she’s improving!!


  76. Suzy R says:

    I’m a brand new reader of your blog and I’m love, positive energy and prayers for Cuddles. I had three very special hens a few years ago so I know how beautiful those friends can be. I know nothing about chicken veterinary so all I can offer is understanding and prayer. You are a strong loving person. If anyone can pull Cuddles through, it will be you. I’ll be sending those vibes.

  77. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    Very sorry to hear about Cuddles. We know you will do everything you can for her. I’m sorry that I don’t know anything about chickens so I can’t help in that way. Of course you would euthanize if it is sadly required. We wouldn’t expect anything less from you. Cuddles is a beloved member of your family. Anyone who would think to do otherwise doesn’t deserve to have an animal. I do feel for you as this is an agonizing decision. Do it now? Wait for awhile? Our family’s philosophy is better a day too early than a day too late. This summer we had to make this decision twice and lost both of our beloved greyhounds within six weeks of each other. Devastating but necessary.

    You will get through this – but it truly sucks!

  78. Melissa in North Carolina says:

    I have no suggestions to make so I’ll keep this brief for those who do…I believe that if anyone can find a cure for Cuddles you will find it or you will find the right person to cure your girl. Get well Cuddles! Hang in there, Karen.

  79. Leslie says:

    I’m so sorry Karen that your sweet Cuddles is sick. We have chickens and have had to assist two of them to the other side after they had become ill, and were beyond hope of recovery. I, like you, could not chop of a chickens head. After doing some research We discovered that starter fluid (for engines) is mostly ether. By putting some on a cloth and holding it over their beak, they fall asleep. More fluid on the cloth and in a plastic they will die – peacefully, I think. It’s never easy- but it seems better than to watch them suffer.

  80. Beth says:

    I know little about chickens, but a friend had some and they fell prone to Gout- she said chickens that can’t roam freely in big space tend to get this. I don’t know its symptoms, etc, but it may be an avenue to investigate. Good luck! I love your Cuddles (and chicken) stories! I hope she gets better quickly!

  81. kate-v says:

    I will hold good thoughts for you and Cuddles. It is a hard time and I hope she will fully recover from whatever causes her illness.

  82. Maureen says:

    Karen, I donot have chickens but I asked my friend who does. She doesn’t know but suggests you contact The Chicken Chick who has a blog and is on Facebook. So very sorry.

  83. Angela says:

    I don’t know poop about chickens, but you always inspire me to want to find out more and have my own. If its a living breathing thing who gives you happiness, joy and makes you laugh and gives comfort in times of sadness…its a dear loved friend. You just moved up a few notches Karen for showing your compassion and heart for a loved one, hen or not. Good luck on your quest to cure the little girl.
    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and heart <3

  84. Dian says:

    So sorry Karen, I love my little girls too. I hope Cuddles gets better!

  85. Shauna says:

    I’m so sorry Karen. I’ve had a chicken die the very same way. I tried all the same things too – all things I read about online. I wish I could provide more help.

  86. Lynn (really spelled w/ an "e", but somebody else already has that spelling on here) says:

    Sending prayers and positive thoughts for Cuddles. Thinking of you both!

  87. karen says:

    This guy:

    Or send an email to some of these resources:

    When I was a girl, we took one of my hens (Blossom) to the Rutgers Univ. Agriculture Experiment Station and they did a great job diagnosing her. You may have to give her a slurry through a syringe to get her back on her feed. I would contact some of these university people, also to be sure it’s not something the others could catch. Above all, good luck!

  88. karen says:

    Not sue if someone posted this earlier, but I also found this:

    You might see if any vets in your area treat birds like cockatoos or parrots and could do a bacterial workup on the poop.

  89. Wendy says:

    from my “other” chicken lady:
    feed only rice for 3 days…with water of course..remove all feed and toss..get fresh feed

    she said more, but you do not need to read it….keep us posted

  90. sarah waterfield says:

    Karen, If you need someone to drive you and Cuddles to the vet (ANYTIME) PLEASE let me know. Transporting sick animals is always stressful, ans another person can be helpful. Anything you need. . . !
    This is just so awful!!!! hugs, sarah

  91. Sally A says:

    I don’t know if you saw it, but the poultry pathologist responded to you. Comment #62. He said not to bathe her, among other things.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sally A. Yes, thanks I did see the comment! In fact we emailed back and forth a few times and he was very nice. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen

  92. Ann says:

    So sorry to hear about Cuddles. Sorry I have n0 knownledge in chickens. I’ll keep you and Cuddles in prayer

  93. dana says:

    Sorry to hear about this. Is this the hen that sat in the little girls lap that came to see you with her mom from Singapore? I think it is because you said thats why her name is Cuddles. The poo pics dont bother me one iota. I have Crohns disease (and a 5yr old) so poop and matters of poop are right up my alley, so to speak. Stupid question, but can chickens eat bananas, rice, or applesauce?? Those, along with tea, are what makes up the BRAT diet for peeps with bowel disease or stomach flu. It helps to thicken and slow the diarrhea. Thats odd that there are not poultry vets around you. What do the farmers do? Maybe I do not want to know.

  94. Stephbo says:

    Your post is just heartbreaking. I hope that Cuddles rallies. She has been such a good friend to you. Sending warm, feathery thoughts to you and Cuddles!

  95. Mike the Chicken Vet says:

    Hi Karen,

    Any updates? If you have any other questions, please comment on my site, as I get email notifications, but it would be great to find out how things are going.


  96. ally says:

    Of course the other option is to take her to the emerg clinic at U of Guelph. Email me if you need directions.

  97. Teddee Grace says:

    I’m sure you’ve researched this thoroughly, but here is what I found: Prevalence-
    Common, more common in broiler breeders

    General signs –
    The same signs associated with pain: lack of appetite, lethargy, huddling with fluffed up feathers. Sudden death. Nesting behavior with no eggs produced.
    Cardinal or diagnostic signs –
    Distended abdomen, frequent multiple yolked eggs. (The occasional double yolker should seldom cause worry, especially in young hens.) Cessation in laying. Yellow-orange (yolk colored) droppings.

    Cause/s –
    This condition occurs when the hen matures too many egg folicles (yolks) at once, and is sometimes the result of a condition known as EODES (erratic oviposition and defective egg syndrome). With this illness, the yolks inside the hens body become infected, often with e coli bacteria. The yolks may be despositied internally instead of within an egg, and when the hen’s body tries to reabsorb them, the peritoneum can become infected, as egg yolk is a good medium for bacteria to grow. This problem can occur when young hens or pullets are exposed to stress and too much light too early in their maturation, typically in a factory farm settingโ€ฆ although it can occur in home flocks that crowd too many hens together in a small space and use light to encourage early laying. We wonder if northern climates, where summer days are very long and flocks spend more time indoors, see a higher incidence, too? Thus far we have seen no studies on the issue.

    Communicability –
    Yolk peritonitis is not contagious, but the underlying issues will be common to your flock and can mean it occurs in more than one hen in your flock at once.

    Communicability to humans –
    No. However, the underlying infection can be communicated as food poisoning if you donโ€™t handle and cook eggs (or meat) produced by your flock correctly.

    Incubation period –

    No. birds do not become carriersโ€ฆ however the bacteria causing the infection may be elevated in your environment and/or cause other infections.

    This can happen in any environment, but is more common in factory farms and in flocks where the birds are highly stressed, exposed to too much artificial light at a young age, and are crowded too closely together in an unsanitary environment..

    Home treatment and/or prevention –
    Prevention: Avoid adding light to the coop at allโ€ฆ but at least until young birds have been laying for a month or two. Give your hens plenty of clean space and practice good biosecurity.

    Treatment: There is no real home treatment for this… however, if you are using light in the coop, cease. A vet will need to diagnose your bird and prescribe antibiotics or other appropriate treatment.

    Veterinary care – Your vet can diagnose and sometimes offer treatment (antibiotics) when the problem is caught early. If the problem is caused by internal laying, surgery may be necessary.

    Recovery – Recovery is possible, but depends on the extent of the infection. Your veterinarian will be able to offer an informed prognosis.

    Other conditions, illnesses and/or diseases with similar signs:
    Pasteurella (fowl cholera) or Salmonella

    From the color of her stools, it certainly looks as if they contain egg yolk.

  98. Robin says:

    just spoke to a resident in our area and she raises chickens and says that wehen her chickens are not well she gives them a couple eye droppers full of Apricot Brandy.She says it really helps them out

  99. Pingback: How This Blog Got Started | Disturbing the universe

  100. pamela says:

    Hi. Just would like to know the update on this.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pamela. I’m afraid Cuddles has died, but she lived for another 2 years after this particular post. ๐Ÿ™‚ If you search Cuddles in my search bar at the top of the page you can read all about it. She was a good little chicken and we got through several more bouts before she finally couldn’t fight it off anymore. ~ karen!

      • pamela says:

        So sorry to hear this. My girl looks so similar to her and has the same symptoms. No Avian vets near and this is my third hen now that has the same symptoms, my other two died so I don’t have much hope. This girl is by far my favourite and I cannot figure out whats killing them. I will search because I’d love to know what she had. I need to stop this before my entire flock is gone. ๐Ÿ™

        • Karen says:

          Sorry Pamela. I feel for you. But Egg Yolk Peritonitis (which is what Cuddles had) is not contagious. Merck’s disease is but it would also present with leg paralysis. Also look up Coccidiosis to see if the symptoms for that match your birds. Another thing you can look into is worms. Each has to be treated with a different antibiotic but if you can get any sort of general antibiotic it could help. For Cuddles I was using Apo Tetra 250 mg capsules (1/1000). If you have a friendly regular vet chances are they’ll prescribe it for you. Also different worms have different treatments you can’t just guess and treat. Check their Cecal matter for cecal worms (although cecal worms isn’t normally deadly and is quite normal in a small amount). Hope that helps a little bit. ~ karen!

          • Pamela says:

            Hi thanks for responding so soon! There isn’t an actual avian vet where we live and I can’t spend the money to take her to one in a city far away…. I’ve been reading a lot .. because I feel no one seems to have an answer for me. Its not just my fav girl right now who is sick. I’ve had 2 of my other friendly hens die from these same symptoms I’m seeing in this third one. It does sound a lot like what Cuddles had but it isn’t contagious. I did read that while it may not be contagious the underlying issue will be common to your flock….. i just can’t figure out what that problem is…. I have seen no signs of worms and my whole flock was dewormed with Ivermectin recently as a result of what we thought was lice. I’ve looked up Coccidiosis and some symptoms match but others don’t, they are also all atleast over a year old now and I know its more likely in chicks or pullets. Only saw blood in droppings in the one hen who I believe passed a lash egg and died shortly after. To add to the confusion this morning I found our second shell-less egg this week. It’s not my sick girl because she is separated from the flock and in the garage. So I’m wondering if this is a sign of another about to show the super sick symptoms my girl in the garage is….. One more strange thing: all my hens have been happy and healthy looking, laying eggs daily and laid even in winter when it was cold here…….

            • Pamela says:

              and I should add…. right up until death my hens eat and drink water. This one started off drinking tons of water and thats how I noticed she was ill. I see now she has slowed down to drinking what I think is a normal amount….. eating and wandering around. When the others died and I talked to a vet tech who talked to a vet… they didn’t think it was related and couldn’t figure out what it was…. so we kept thinking it was an isolated incident because the flock acted and looked so healthy. Doesn’t feel isolated anymore. I’m diligent in my coop cleaning, feeding and watering and general checking on the flock, they aren’t free range but are offered a healthy diet and lots of love.

            • Karen says:

              Hi Pamela! Depending on where you live the other thing I would look into is avian flu I’m afraid. It moves pretty quickly through a coop and kills quickly. I”m not entirely sure what the symptoms are but I’m sure you can Google it. ๐Ÿ™ Good luck! ~ karen

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